MILLIONAIRES WITH WET BOTTOMS
That's what the late, great sportswriter Red Smith called yachtsmen, and he hit the nail right on the head.
We saw many of that moist species in a tizzy the past few weeks, as it looked like Newport had a chance to steal away the 2013 America's Cup from San Francisco, only to fall short in the end. Did Oracle Racing honcho and Golden Gate Yacht Club America's Cup Committee member Tom Ehman use the City by the Sea and the Ocean State as leverage to extract what he wanted from San Fran? Sure, but not disgracefully so, and we can leave the fight with head held high.
Luckily, we had the right man at the helm of the state's Economic Development Corporation at the time — Keith Stokes, perhaps Newport's biggest cheerleader and defender in his former post as head of the Newport Chamber of Commerce. (And P+J think Linc Chafee made a wise decision in keeping Stokes on for at least another year.) No one else could have come that close to pulling it off.
While local sailors weep into their dark-and-stormys, let P+J offer this idea. Despite being offered the crumbs — hosting the formal regattas that lead up to the America's Cup years from now — simply hold our own Newport America's Cup right here in 2012. And use the real 12-meter yachts that made Ted Turner famous on Thames Street — the winning skipper of Courageous downing a fifth of Jack Daniel's in the time it took to stagger from a dock front press conference to the New York Yacht Club hacienda. No one in the general public cares about the current America's Cup anymore — least of all Rhode Islanders, who still flip Dennis Conner the bird whenever they see him in The Biggest Little — especially now that they sail catamarans on steroids meeting specs written up by Stephen Hawking that conjure up instant images of gated communities and a hearty "Fuck you, I'm rich" from the captain. ESPN would kill for the rights (and it would air a year earlier), and we have enough highly talented boat jockeys around here to crew a fleet of 20 12-meters.
It's a risk, but the revenue, jobs, and newfound prestige would be immeasurable. This can be done, and it would be a huge success, drawing people from everywhere east of the Mississippi, and hopefully leaving the Eurotrash from landlocked competing countries like Switzerland left to ponder a trip to Alcatraz for excitement. And we get a refurbished Fort Adams to boot. What's not to like, matey?
NOT TO MISS . . .
The Canadian songbird, Gary Lait Cummings, has a CD release party at his Vo Dilun headquarters, Nick-a-Nee's (South and Chestnut streets in the "Jewelry/Knowledge" District) this Saturday, January 15. Gary and friends will play as will our hero, guitar great Thom Enright who, Gary tells us, will be doing an acoustic set.
THE HORROR IN TUCSON
Immediately after the carnage in Arizona last weekend (literally within minutes), Internet chat turned to whether or not the toxic political discourse in the country is to blame and whether or not it is largely the extreme right-wingers who have been the main perpetrators.